Regulators

TDSAT asks MSM not to disconnect signals to Manthan if dues paid

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NEW DELHI: MSM Media Distribution Pvt. Ltd has been directed not to disconnect the signals to Manthan Broadband Services Pvt. Ltd if the latter makes payments under a formula worked out by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
                               
TDSAT asked Manthan to make the payment to the respondent for the outstanding dues as under: 
(a) Rs 1.5 crore by 25 December
(b) Rs 1.5 crore – 15 days thereafter
(c) The balance amount after adjusting TDS amount by 31 January, 2016. 
 
TDSAT members Kuldip Singh and B B Srivastava in their judgment said in terms of the regulations, three months period after expiry of the existing agreement is permitted to enable the parties to negotiate and arrive at a fresh agreement. During this period, the terms of the old agreement are applicable but when the fresh agreement is signed, the same have to abide by the terms of the new agreement. 
 
Since the parties have not been able to come to any agreement even after three months, the Tribunal felt that Manthan must clear the outstanding amount of subscription dues as per old agreement if it wishes to continue with the signals of MSM. 
 
With regard to the credit period, the Tribunal noted that not only is the agreement not in subsistence but dues have also accumulated over a period of time. 
 
Further, since the subscription fee and placement charges are governed by two separate agreements, which are not even subsisting as on date, the Tribunal said Manthan cannot insist on adjustment of placement fees against the dues of license fee. 
 
 
It had been submitted during the hearing that in terms of the notices issued under regulation 6(i) of DAS Regulations 2012, Manthan has to pay MSM for subscription fees as under: 
MSM O/s for Kolkata as per notice dated 29.10.2015 Rs 4,04,53,536/- 
MSM O/s for Ranchi as per notice dated 5.11.2015 Rs 55,60,609/- 
TV Today O/s for Ranchi as per notice dated 5.11.2015 Rs 1,12,395/-
TV Today O/s for Kolkata as per invoice dated 1.10.2015 Rs 8,20,680/-
 
Manthan counsel Navin Chawla submitted that under the understanding between the parties, his client was getting a credit period of two months for payment of subscription dues. He further submitted that under the invoices issued by Manthan, MSM owes a sum of Rs 4.73 crore as on October 2015 towards placement charges of the channels of the respondent. After netting off the placement charges, Chawla had claimed that it was MSM who had to pay an amount of Rs 1.58 crore to Manthan. 
 
Chawla referred to minutes of meeting between the parties held on 11 - 13 August in which MSM admitted placement charges of Rs 2.97 crore till July, 2015. However, MSM counsel Ramji Srinivasan submitted that there is no netting off clause in the subscription agreement for adjusting subscription fees against placement charges and in any case the agreement for placement had expired on 31 March, 2015 and therefore, Manthan cannot claim any placement charges in the absence of any such agreement. He further submitted that the minutes of meeting of August was part of a negotiation process and cannot be relied upon in the absence of a concluded agreement. 
 
The Tribunal noted that the subscription agreement between the parties expired on 31 March, 2015 by efflux of time and no fresh agreement has been signed till date. 

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